On a very warm afternoon at the Kaohsiung National Stadium in southern Taiwan, last year’s Taiwan Premier League runners-up Taipower FC and Hang Yuan FC, the 3rd place team in 2019, played out a goalless but action packed draw.
A tense first half saw neither team willing to concede ground, the oft-seen Hang Yuan tactic of soaking up an opponent’s early pressure once more coming to the fore for the visitors.
Try as they might though, Taipower failed to create any clear-cut chances for long periods under a blazing sun with Hang Yuan always looking dangerous on the break.
In the 24th minute, the team from New Taipei were left feeling hard done by after a clumsy Taipower foul on Liu Chih-wen in the penalty area that would see some referees point to the spot, went seemingly unnoticed by the man in the middle this time out.
The tackles continued to fly in, primarily from the Taipower side; the home team seeming to grow more and more irritated as the first half wore on that they were being kept at by by the visitors rendering the Taipower first half tally of six corners largely ineffective.
Both teams started the second half with the bit between their teeth, Hang Yuan looking for their first ever away win against Taipower in Kaohsiung.
The hosts created most of the early chances, time and time again being denied by the Haitian duo of Judelin Aveska and Louis Emmanuel at the heart of the Hang Yuan defence.
The standard of refereeing in the Premier League was once again an issue in the 61st minute when Hang Yuan midfielder Michael O’Gorman picked up the game’s first yellow after Taipower number 23, Lee Hsiang-wei overreacted to an innocuous challenge as the ball was running into touch – a far more serious challenge by Huang Kai-chun for Taipower going unpunished 60 seconds later.
The home team finally picked up a long overdue yellow when national team midfielder Lin Chien-hsun forced Hang Yuan’s Chen Ching-hsuan off the ball right in the front of the ref.
The game became increasingly aggressive as it moved into its closing stages with Taipower resorting to futile penalty claims in the 78th minute when Lee Hsiang-wei was again the center of attention, this time going to ground in the Hang Yuan box in a manner reminiscent of Jurgen Klinsmann in his prime.
The remaining 12 minutes saw the tempo dip before a final five minutes of injury time had all the Hang Yuan men behind the ball to secure the point and maintain their undefeated record in open play this season.
Taipower, alongside Tatung who lost to Taiwan Steel today, for many years the darlings of the CTFA’s top flight will see the game as two points lost, as both visitors and hosts end the first half of the season on 14 points.
The Taiwan Premier League has a week off next week, with the second half of the 2020 season resuming on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of June.